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Question

Does your country have enough three-phase qualified electricians for the huge changes coming in the next 2-15 years?

Patrick Moore's picture
Proprietor, Caversham Global Trading Ltd

My first brush with the power industry was in early 1991, just before "Vesting Day" in the UK. At the time, I was working for Price Waterhouse, who were developing a system called the...

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Industry bodies estimate that the United Kingdom needs 65,000 electricians trained and willing to work with three-phase supplies. A large part of that requirement will be driven by the need to vastly expand the UK's electric vehicle charging network, which typically requires a three-phase supply.

As of August 2022, it's estimated that the UK has approximately 15,000 qualified personnel, a shortfall of 50,000. I'm not aware of this being raised as a barrier to the large-scale rollout of electric vehicles, despite the current intention to cease production of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

What's the situation elsewhere in the world? Europe, at least, uses 400V three-phase power in much the same way as in the UK. Do other EU countries have a similar shortfall of trained personnel?

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Best Answer

Patrick: This is a worldwide issue.  With the unstoppable conversion to an energy world based on the use of renewables and energy storage, the need will only grow. We need to look to the institutions such as community colleges, trade schools, and union apprentice programs to help meet the need for the trained folks who can do this work.  The resulting jobs pay a strong middle-class wage and will restore the middle class that has been decimated in many countries.  It is also an opportunity to retrain folks in dying professions, like coal mining. Also, an opportunity to get more women involved in the building trades.  The other approach that is a bit more radical is to look to immigrants who need jobs.  In the US, the agriculture industry that is very dependent on workers in the field has learned that kids out of high school, regardless of race and background have no interest in working in our farm fields.  Letting immigrants do the jobs that no one else wants takes jobs away from no one and solves a worldwide issue that will help the future global economy.

Vince Bowen's picture
Vince Bowen on Sep 8, 2022

I work in US career technical education and oversee an electrical engineering technology program. In the northwest of the US, the problem isn't really programs; it is finding prospective students that have a solid background in algebra and trig. I'm working with industry partners to help me recruit students. Additionally, I'm looking at best teaching methods for mathmatics, which exist but aren't being used in K-12. I'm also working in the K-12 arena to pitch better ways to teach mathmatics.

As already mentioned. This is a global problem. The trend creating the workforce shortage in the high and medium voltage domain started years ago—the same in Israel. Our academic and practical engineering institutes report total students' lack of interest in high and medium voltage studies. This trend touches all education levels, from technicians to up to PhDs. To reverse the trend is a long process that hopefully started in some countries or will start shortly.  

At the same time as the educational effort, steps must be taken to solve the immediate and medium-term challenges. To offer better value and preferential conditions to those with a basis in the field, such as electronics and low voltage electrical technicians and engineers, and to train them in medium and high voltage areas.

Patrick Moore's picture
Patrick Moore on Sep 13, 2022

Yoseph, I particularly like what you say in your second paragraph: that the industry needs to improve the pay and conditions for those who could (relatively) easily cross-train into the medium- and high-voltage arena.

My own background, for example, is primarily in low-voltage electronics, particularly audio, with a limited amount of working with bias voltages (150-300VDC) in valve guitar amplifiers. What first caught my attention in this arena was chatting to the engineer who came to fit our new smart gas meter. He observed that 3-phase-trained electricians who "chase the money" (e.g. work a lot of nights, or work both weekend days, most weekends) can earn up to £120K per year.

In other words, what you suggest is already happening on the ground in the UK, in as much as three-phase and high-voltage engineers are already commanding double or triple the earnings of a standard domestic electrician. Market forces suggest that this trend will continue, until such time as the supply of trained electricians increases.

That may, of course, come far too late to avoid derailing the government's aggressive plans for the switch to electric vehicles....

Yes, our country has  a good no. of electricians with three phase background. the new electricians are mostly getting trained in the three phase systems.

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